The Neve 1073LB Pre is the latest incarnation of Rupert Neve’s legendary 1073 preamp and is designed to fit into 500-series chassis.
40 years after Rupert Neve’s original design, the Neve 1073LB Pre exhibits all the same sonic characteristics that have made this preamp so popular throughout the world. From using the same Class A design and architecture as its predecessor to matching every component and hand-wound transformers, AMS- Neve has gone to great length to ensure the latest iteration of the 1073 family delivers the same big and punchy sound with silky-smooth top end engineers and producers expect.
Updated to the 21st century the Neve 1073LB Pre however features new appointments such as a new Trim control, a switchable microphone input impedance and Neve's unique Audio Processing Input allowing the processing of adjacent Neve modules within the same Lunchbox
Now in a small, portable and flexible 500-series format, the Neve 1073LB Pre brings you the sound of Neve at a fraction of the price.
Amongst the many iconic pieces of audio equipment we have come to love from AMS Neve is the 1073. This pre-amplifier has been seen stand alone, and alongside the 107 EQ in many different forms, and now we have the opportunity to fill a slot or two of our 500-series lunchboxes as well with the AMS Neve 1073LB pre-amp and 1073LB EQ. 1073LB Pre Looking at the AMS Neve 1073LB pre-amp first (LB stands for Lunchbox), this single 500 series unit has all of the look we are familiar with although, for such a compact form, the faceplate is heavily populated. A green/red signal LED sits above the red 22-position ELMA rotary control for input gain of the Class A input stage. Each notch is a 5dB step running from -20dB to +10dB for a selected Line signal and -20dB to -80dB for a mic signal. Both the mic and line input options go through the AMS Neve 1073LB Class A transformer coupled output stage.
A trim rotary control refines the signal level to this output stage and runs from -10dB to +5dB. Also, when this pot is pressed, the +48 phantom power is activated for the microphone input.
The first of three buttons next to the trim control on the AMS Neve 1073 LB selects either a Lo-Z (300Ω) or Hi-Z (1200Ω) input transformer coupled stage. The second is a phase invert switch, and the third selects the input source.
As well as the balanced XLR inputs and output on the rear of the Lunchbox, the AMS Neve 1073LB has a front XLR/ TRS combination socket. The FR (Front) I/P button is used to select line or mic input from this combination connector.
As with the 1073LB pre-amp, the 1073LB EQ maintains the look and basic function of the 1970 original. This is also a single slot unit and has three dual concentric rotary controls and an EQ in/out button. The outer ring of the AMS 1073LB EQ top control selects turnover frequency of the 18dB per octave HPF between 50Hz, 80Hz, 160Hz, and 300Hz. The inner control gives you +/-16dB cut and boost of a fixed 12kHz smooth shelving EQ. The mid section of the 1073LB EQ has a fixed Q value, but the centre frequency can be selected using the outer rotary control from 0.36kHz, 0.7kHz, 1.6kHz, 3.2kHz, 4.8kHz, and 7.2kHz. The inner control applies +/-18dB of cut or boost. The low frequency outer dial of the AMS Neve 1073LB EQ selects 35Hz, 60Hz, 110Hz, or 220Hz as the frequency point for this low shelving section. The inner dial then applies +/-16dB of cut or boost to your chosen signal.
AMS Neve's Audio Processing Insert (approriate acronym) technology allows you to link adjacent AMS Neve 500 series modules. Cables are supplied for this and the manual details the process for setting up the link.
In the supplied test rig, I had the AMS Neve 1073LB preamp and 1073LB EQ linked in this way. With this in place, it acted as a true insert so the 1073LB EQ was inserted into the 1073LB pre-amp rather than simply being the next unit in the signal flow chain. This meant that the overall output of the combined processing was fed through the 1073LB pre-amp Class A transformer-coupled output stage.
The test rig had one AMS Neve 1073LB pre-amp and one 1073LB EQ, in linked configuration, and a single 1073LB preamp standalone in an API six slot Lunchbox. One issue that was mentioned to me by studio maintenance was the fact that the Lunchbox single power supply feeds all loaded modules, so with a unit like the AMS Neve 1073LB that would benefit from a higher current, this could have a bearing over performance. My understanding is that 500 series-type modules vary a great deal when it comes to their power requirements, but maybe lightly loaded hosts would have a bearing. I cannot really comment on this from the test, but it may be worth bearing in mind when fully populating a rack.
The 1073 is such an iconic pre-amp, I was hoping that the 1073LB was not a watered down version and, using it across a variety of signal types, I am happy to say that it is not. I especially liked having the ability to modify the impedance and, with ribbon microphones, I found this added some options to the pallet.
The AMS Neve 1073LB pre-amp has a brightness to it that has nicely smooth edges, rather than a more aggressive sharper feel. I would have liked more gain with the trim control to really allow me to drive the 1073LB, but the only niggle that, for me, was a bit of an issue was the trim control's integrated phantom power switching. A separate switch would make for fewer colourful-language moments. I have always found the AMS Neve 1073LB EQ to be a very musical design. Smooth is the word that defines how this equaliser interacts with audio signals. The mid-range has a particular depth and warmth that complements your sound without swamping it. Having the combination of the two 1073LB modules together was very pleasing and a joy to use.
In the AMS Neve 1073LB pre-amp and 1073LB EQ, we have all the attributes of a true classic design and sound in a format accessible by more audio professionals and studio
facilities than ever before. You will not be disappointed with either of these 500-series modules, which produce smooth, musical, pleasing results, as you would expect. The format gets more attractive all the time.
Reviewed by Simon Tillbrook for Audio Media October 2011